Unethical pay raises at City Hall?

KRIV (Fox 26) reports on a developing scandal at City Hall. The Mayor, the station alleges, gave unethical pay raises to senior staff amid the devastating furloughs and layoffs that City Hall underwent in 2011. As many may recall, these furloughs and layoffs were a key point of contention between myself and Mayor Parker’s administration. I even went as far as sitting out the 2011 elections and endorsing the “Houston Public Employee” as my Person of the Year in 2010.

Anyways, in documents obtained by KRIV through the Firefighter’s Union, it is shown that in the first three years of Parker’s term, her Chief of Staff was given a 50% pay hike, while her Finance Director’s salary was raised nearly 150%. The Communications Director also saw her pay nearly double.

All this happening when rampant layoffs and paycuts were occurring. After contacting Parker’s office, KRIV did receive a response back from the Mayor’s office via email. In it, she stated “Members of the mayor’s staff were previously employed elsewhere in city government. Their positions in the mayor’s administration were promotions that came with salary increases.

There is obviously some truth to Parker’s statements, when one considers her history at City Hall. I’m not very familiar with the history of these individuals’ occupations, but I assume they worked for Mayor Parker at the Controller’s office. The transition between the 8th floor (Controller’s Office) and the 3rd floor (Mayor’s Office) does, in fact, mean a different occupation and, with it, a different salary.

By this logic, one could make the argument that Parker received a doubling of her salary by switching from being City Controller to Mayor.

Further, the claims made about the increased salaries give some insight into how lazy KRIV was in evaluating these allegations. I would like to share some of the excerpts they use to illustrate the points, and remark about why this does not make all that much:

Between **2009** and 2011 Parker’s Chief of Staff Waynette Chan was awarded a half dozen wage hikes lifting her salary from $123,000 to $180,000.

In a three year period beginning in **2009** finance director chief Kelly Dowe’s salary rose $77,000 to $190,000.

Parker’s communication director Janet Evans jumped from $76,000 in **2009** to $128,000 in just two years.

2009 is a year that keeps popping up. While Annise Parker was elected Mayor in 2009, she did not take office until two days into 2010. Accordingly, any salary received during any part of 2009 occurred before Annise Parker was the Mayor of Houston. If these individuals were employed by the City of Houston, they either worked for a completely different department or for Parker in the Controller’s office.

The only plausible way for these allegations to be true is if these individuals, Chan, Dowe and Evans, worked for Mayor White’s office. However, if this was true (it isn’t), then they would not be Parker’s allies, but rather would be career bureaucrats.

Lastly, these allegations are brought be the Firefighter’s Union, an organization we have already demonstrated has a vested interest against Parker‘s re-election. There easily could be more to the story, but from KRIV reported, this looks like a pretty phony scandal.

6 thoughts on “Unethical pay raises at City Hall?

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